Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The Press

Well, now we know...

When this report came out, Teresa echoed my own thoughts:

This is the type of baseless, scaremongering claim that does far more to hurt than to help when talking about computer and industry security.
Unless the other countries are using the same systems we use, set up in the same way in regard to internet access, how can he begin to equate a supposed attack elsewhere in the world with a possible attack in this country?

The real annoyance is the lack of factual evidence. The statement itself has no content. There's nothing - not one single fact to back up what he's saying. It's the all powerful - super menacing (cue scary music) "we know this to be true, we just can't tell you why - it's a security issue"...(/scary music)
So why this story, right now? Here's why:
President Bush signed a directive this month that expands the intelligence community's role in monitoring Internet traffic to protect against a rising number of attacks on federal agencies' computer systems.

The directive, whose content is classified, authorizes the intelligence agencies, in particular the National Security Agency, to monitor the computer networks of all federal agencies -- including ones they have not previously monitored.
Supporters of cyber-security measures say the initiative falls short because it doesn't include the private sector -- power plants, refineries, banks -- where analysts say 90 percent of the threat exists.
 - Washington Post
First, proclaim there’s a threat (real or artificial, it doesn’t matter). Next, find some people to agitate for “doing something” to counter it. Third, get the press to promote the screams of the alarmists. Finally, create a new program that appears to “do something,” but actually just increases the reach of some unaccountable federal agency.[1]

In other words, Government 101.

Related: Just a coincidence
[1] The gang at Slashdot would add one last step: “5. Profit!”
When the government gets involved, the profits frequently go to the alarmists who agitated to “do something” in step #2. Note the affiliation of the source quoted in the Post article:
“If you don't include industry in the mix, you're keeping one of your eyes closed because the hacking techniques are likely the same across government and commercial organizations,” said Alan Paller, research director at the SANS Institute, a Bethesda-based cyber-security group that assists companies that face attacks. “If you're looking for needles in the haystack, you need as much data as you can get because these are really tiny needles, and bad guys are trying to hide the needles.”
Which just happens to be the organization that hosted the CIA speech reported in the original story. Q.E.D.

Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 04:03:19 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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In Passing

Really clever a.k.a. Consumer warning

From Pixy:

Let's say you have an ADSL router - we'll call it a Getnear DG834 - and you're happy with it, but you just installed a second ADSL connection and you want to extend your wireless network, so you bought a Getnear DG834G (G for 802.11g wireless), and you plug it in to your notebook and run the installation software, you'd better be damn sure that you turn off your wireless access before you do that because otherwise the software will SEEK OUT AND BRAIN-WIPE YOUR EXISTING ADSL ROUTER.

A factory reset will fix that, but you'd better remember exactly what your username and password are...

Posted by: Old Grouch in In Passing at 03:15:05 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Monday, 28 January 2008

In Passing

No guts, no glory

The Wall Street Journal:

...Tonight... President Bush uses his State of the Union address to lay down his toughest anti-earmarking pledge to date. We're told he will tell Congress that he will veto any fiscal 2009 spending bill that doesn't cut earmarks in half from 2008 levels. He will also report that he is issuing a Presidential order informing executive departments that from now on they should refuse to fund earmarks that aren't explicitly mentioned in statutory language.
Of course...
Mr. Bush's executive order will not apply to the fiscal 2008 spending bills that passed late last year. Congress endorsed 11,735 special-interest earmarks worth $16.9 billion in fiscal 2008, yet thousands of these weren't even written into the actual budget bills.
No real action, but a bunch of promises. This is supposed to be progress?

Forget the Journal's "12-step" program. Cold turkey works quicker, and in my experience the folks who get through it don't backslide.

UPDATE 080128 20:29: Bush issues the order, and Glenn says:
If he'd done this in 2005, of course, the GOP might have kept its majority.
Yep. And we wouldn't have $16.9 billion worth of earmarks today.

Via: Daily Pundit


Posted by: Old Grouch in In Passing at 19:04:25 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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How to secure the homeland

This started out as a quite different post.[1] But then my attention was directed to this:

“There are currently no guidelines regulating the private acquisition of biological, chemical, and radiological detectors,” warned [Richard] Falkenrath [New York City Police Department deputy commissioner for counterterrorism], adding that this law was suggested by officials within the Department of Homeland Security. - Village Voice, “NYPD Seeks an Air Monitor Crackdown for New Yorkers” by Chris Thompson
So let me get this straight: Some useless bureaucrats at the DHS think there should be “guidelines” for private ownership and use of things like geiger counters, all in the name of “avoiding unwarranted anxiety.”  Because without “guidelines,” why, people might go around using them, and what’s more, they might find radiation in some unusual places. (And might get upset about it!) With no government “help.”

Now if the denizens of New York are so stupid that they elect City Council members who are stupid enough to pass an ordinance like this, well, so many more candidates for the Darwin Award. They can face their own consequences.

But the DHS has no business encouraging this. The “mushroom management” concept of keeping citizens ignorant and helpless has no place in a democratic society, no matter how convenient it might be for government agents. Somebody ought to find those unnamed officials and take ’em out back of the outhouse.

After all, it’s hard to be "a pack, not a herd" when the government keeps pulling your teeth.

Naming names: Running point for the proposal, Peter Vallone, Jr., chairman of the Council's Public Safety Committee.

Via: Slashdot
[1] The story so far: Nannies in the Bloomberg administration and the New York City Police Department want to require a license for any privately-possessed air-quality monitor:
...[Richard Falkenrath, New York City Police Department deputy commissioner for counterterrorism] and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have asked the City Council to pass a law requiring anyone who wants to own such detectors to get a permit from the police first. And it's not just devices to detect weaponized anthrax that they want the power to control, but those that detect everything from industrial pollutants to asbestos in shoddy apartments... - Village Voice, “NYPD Seeks an Air Monitor Crackdown for New Yorkers” by Chris Thompson
All supposedly out of fear of “excessive false alarms and unwarranted anxiety.” None of which have happened. What’s more, Falkenrath is anxious that there is “no requirement that they be reported to the police department—or anyone else, for that matter—and no mechanism for coordinating these devices.” And without all those government guidelines and requirements, well, you never can tell what people might do, can you?

Posted by: Old Grouch in Rants at 17:54:30 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Friday, 25 January 2008

In Passing

Feel-good story of the day

From Tasmania Mercury:

A would-be suicide bomber fell down a flight of stairs and blew himself up as he headed out for an attack in Afghanistan, police say.
And that's not all:
It was the second such incident in two days, with another man killing himself and three others on Tuesday when his bomb-filled waistcoat exploded as he was putting it on in the southern town of Lashkar Gah.

Via Rantburg, also Ace, HT Ray Robison for the title.

Posted by: Old Grouch in In Passing at 16:04:56 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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The Press

So which is it?

Bill Quick reads the news:

"...the first annual decline in the median home price since 1999"
"...the first annual decline since reliable records began in 1968."
"...likely the first drop in median home prices since the Great Depression."
...and asks the obvious question.

In the comments, Lorenzo explains all.

Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 15:08:07 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Thursday, 24 January 2008

The Press

Challenging USA Today

Jim Hopkins at Gannett Blog spots a different kind of story on the Times' front page.

Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 06:23:01 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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In Passing

Black Thursday?

Rumor hath it that Tam has a birthday today.

Rumor seems a bit less certain as to whether it’s the big 3-0 or the big 4-0.

Believe I’ll go for 30. (It’s never flattering to overestimate a lady’s age. Especially when she’s well-armed.) So happy 30th and all that.

UPDATE 080129 19:25: It's 40.

Posted by: Old Grouch in In Passing at 04:32:08 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Fire them all - 2

Looks like it'll be business as usual on the RepubliCrat front:

President Bush is unlikely to defy Congress on spending billions of dollars earmarked for pet projects...
Wimp! Glenn Reynolds: “I could carve a better backbone out of a banana.”
...but he will probably insist that lawmakers provide more justification for such earmarks in the future...
...on the day the sun rises in the west!
...administration officials said Monday.

Fiscal conservatives in Congress and budget watchdogs have been urging Mr. Bush to issue an executive order instructing agencies to disregard the many earmarks listed just in committee reports, not in the text of legislation.

Lawmakers, including the House Republican whip,
whip.R.I.N.O. Fixed it for you!
Roy Blunt of Missouri, have cautioned the White House that a furor over earmarks could upend Mr. Bush’s hopes for cooperation with Congress on other issues...
Mike Hendrix: “Oh no. Oh, god no. Not that. Because they’ve all worked together so civilly and well up till now.”
...including efforts to revive the economy.
...which the government is so good at.
Moreover, Republicans shudder at the possibility that a Democratic president might reject all their earmarks.
Poor babies! Bill Quick: “And there you have it. If the GOP protests Dem earmarks, a Dem President might not okay the GOP earmark raids on the public purse.”

(Story from New York Times)


Previously: Fire them all

Posted by: Old Grouch in Rants at 23:07:33 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Tuesday, 22 January 2008


If he keeps this up...

C.G. Hill will have to turn in his curmudgeon credentials.

Posted by: Old Grouch in Linkage at 16:48:45 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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